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Layouts for Lettering: Hierarchy, Composition, and Type Systems

Jon Contino, Creative Director

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12 Videos (1h 23m)
    • Trailer

    • History: Illuminated Manuscripts, Art Nouveau, & Newspapers

    • History: The 20th Century

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Thumbnailing

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Thumbnailing (Continued) & Laying Out Shapes

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Layout Exercise

    • Type Systems: Queston #1

    • Type Systems: Question #2

    • Type Systems: Question #3

    • Type Systems: Question #4

    • Type Systems: Question #4 Continued

    • Integrating Type with Image


About This Class

When creating lettering for a product or specific output, you must carefully consider images, illustrations, and negative space to communicate an idea in a defined area. This means that the layout is often more important than the letter work itself. Whether you are a freelance designer or simply hand letter as a hobby, taking your word forms and incorporating them into a practical layout is an incredibly valuable tool for your creative arsenal.

I have been fortunate to work on countless projects requiring a plethora of layouts, both with other brands and my own endeavors. From clothing to signs to sports equipment, each platform presents new challenges, but the underlying principles of hierarchy, composition, and communication remain the same. I am looking forward to sharing these lessons so your own lettering style can flourish on a multitude of platforms.

What You’ll Learn

We will go through ways to apply your lettering skills to a variety of outputs, using simple layouts to achieve beautiful results. Please note that we will NOT be going over how to hand letter. (There are plenty of other awesome Skillshare classes for that!) We’ll cover:

  • A History of Layouts. Important takeaways in poster, packaging, and advertising design from previous generations and today.
  • Hierarchy and Spatial Design. How to establish order and value when communicating written words, and how to use thumbnail sketches and shapes to create a map for your lettering placement.
  • Type Systems. Figuring out which typefaces work well together to support your lettering and communication goals.  
  • Integrating Type with Image. How to use hierarchy and spatial design to find a balance between photo, illustration, and type.

What You’ll Make

In this class you will hone your layout skills by creating compositional frameworks to support your lettering, including type and images. Each project step will help you think critically and systematically about all elements in your cohesive layout design. Have some fun with this!


340 of 348 students recommendSee All

This was a great way for me to learn about the history and hierarchy of type systems. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Jon!
An excellent refresher for the seasoned designer, and good intro for a newer designer. Jon really knows his typography. Good presentation. The only issue I had was the audio was spotty.
Learn the fundamentals of layout, and type/design/layout hierarchy! Very engaging.





Jon Contino

Creative Director

As a New York native, I have been under the influence of corporate mass marketing and inspirational street art since my first breath. Not surprisingly, I have garnered considerable attention for my unique approach to design utilizing hand-drawn lettering and typographic illustration in conjunction with a modern yet minimalistic sensibility.

I received numerous accolades for my fusion of old and new world aesthetics and continue to influence modern trends in graphic design ...

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